Friday, September 26, 2008

Profound Teaching Moment

I had the honour to witness an incredible moment of powerful teaching this week. It reminded me why I am so passionate about education, about children and about community.

At my daughter's school, a little boy died from leukemia. Although this happened a year and a half ago, this week, the school gathered once more to honour him and plant a tree in his memory. His parents returned to the only school their son ever attended and listened to a remarkable teacher named Linda tell the story of his life. She told us that he was diagnosed with cancer in kindergarten and the school responded by organizing a head-shaving fundraiser. More than 20 kids (including girls) shaved their heads, while parents looked on, eyes glistening. Linda talked about how he returned to school for the beginning of grade one, having beaten cancer. He waved the flag to begin the Terry Fox Run. She said how sad we all were when his cancer came back, forcing him back into treatment at the hospital. She talked about how many children and parents piled into a bus and sang "Happy Birthday" to him outside his window at the Stollery Hospital. She talked about the Christmas packages that were put together by families to help brighten his days over the holidays and how, when he was flown to Calgary for a bone marrow transplant, the entire school faced south to send him good wishes. But, still, she said, despite everyone's efforts, he died on Feb. 3. He was 6 years old and he never made it grade two. We all cried, again. She reminded them why it's important to remember him and the lessons he taught us: Lessons of love, bravery and compassion. Lessons of life. And then we all went out to plant his tree. The children cheered when they saw the tree go into the ground and then this little boy's dad picked up the flag and waved it to start the Terry Fox Run, as his son had done two years earlier.

It reminded me what is important and how school is so much more than a building, so much more than a place that delivers curriculum. It is, thanks to great teachers like this one, a place that teaches young people how to be great human beings.

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